Are Your Home and Family Disaster-Ready?

home and family disaster-ready

Protecting against natural disasters is just as wise as winterizing your lawn and garden, and routinely performing spring cleaning. Find out how to keep your home and family disaster-ready, so you have what you need, when harsh elements strike.


Don’t Ignore the Risk of Flooding

Nature hit this past February quite hard, with many storms. According to WLWT Channel 5 News’ “Cincinnati flood of 2018” report, the Ohio River reached a height of 60.53 feet. That’s close to the River’s 1997 record of 64.7 feet, and still ranks it as the city’s 22nd worst overflow. Homes in downtown Cincinnati, Kentucky, and New Richmond were all affected.

But the Ohio River isn’t the only body of water affected by heavy rain and snow in the Cincinnati/Hamilton area. You’re also at risk for flooding if you live near the Great or Little Miami Rivers. Everyone living in a flood zone should prepare for the possibility of this occurrence. Bankrate’s 2016 article “6 Ways to protect your home from flooding” includes the following critical suggestions:

  • Keep all electrical outlets, sockets, and breakers raised above the expected flood zone
  • Make sure that your HVAC system, large appliances, and water heater are also safe from water damage
  • Install an interior or exterior backflow valve, to prevent sewage backups. Gate valves, which have a tighter seal, are also a good idea.
  • Determine how water flows around your house, and then strategically place sandbags at those points
  • Waterproof your basement or any level of your home that may be underground.
  • Always maintain cleared gutters.
  • Consistently check the foundation and window wells for cracks.

Don’t presume your insurance policy includes flooding. The claim may not cover damage if the water came from under a door, foundation, or a broken window well. Discuss policy details with your agent before a situation strikes.


Get Your Family Disaster-Ready for Tornadoes or Hurricanes

While tornadoes and hurricanes share some things in common–high winds and flood waters–their warning time varies tremendously. You might know a hurricane is coming days in advance. For a tornado, you get minutes. Either way, prep your supplies in advance.

The side effects of a swirling tornado funnel can be devastating. Hail puts holes through roofs and siding, and high winds blow dangerous debris, including torn tree branches. According to MNN’s “10 Ways to prepare for tornadoes, strong winds, and hailstorms”, tornadoes cause approximately 80 deaths a year. Combat against these high-intensity storms with an emergency kit full of:

  • durable work gloves
  • prescription medications and OTC pain relievers
  • first-aid supplies
  • portable lanterns and radio
  • extra batteries, phone chargers, flashlights, eyeglasses, and car keys
  • candles and extra matches and lighters
  • basic tools (screwdrivers, hammer, wrench, pliers, nails)
  • noise making or signaling devices
  • personal toiletries
  • at least 3 days’ worth of non-perishable food and water for everyone, including pets
  • copies of home ownership/rental, insurance, health records, pet adoption paperwork, contact numbers, and IDs
  • photos of everyone, including pets
  • favorite toys, stuffed animals, and books, for kids
  • cash

Make your family disaster-ready by creating and practicing a safety plan with everyone. Teach children at an early age how to contact emergency personnel. Determine what calming techniques work best according to your child’s age and personality. Even the most relaxed adult may panic during catastrophic events, so understand how nervous kids can become. Sing songs, make up jokes, reminisce about fun times, and talk about future plans. Proceed cautiously with pets, as scared animals may scratch or bite even humans they trust.


Additional Protective Steps

The basement is typically the safest place in the house during a tornado. But what if you live in an apartment or a home without one? Oklahoma’s EMSA “Safest Places to be During a Tornado” advises taking refuge in a room without windows. If you have to be in a room with windows, stay as far as possible from the glass. Get under a heavy piece of furniture and protect your head and neck with a thick blanket or towel.

It’s also important to keep your property’s trees and large shrubs well manicured. Trim low hanging branches, and remove weak or dying trees. Intact dying trees pose a danger to homes, vehicles, people, and animals.

If you live or have a second home in a coastal area, remember to protect it against hurricanes. Create a checklist, using AccuWeather’s “5 expert tips for protecting your home against hurricane damage,” advice:

  • Remove outside items (patio furniture, moveable décor, etc).
  • Unplug appliances or connect them to surge protectors.
  • Shut off all appliances and electricity that’s not necessary.
  • Brace/board up doors and windows with wood or hurricane shutters.

Stay Knowledgeable about Earthquakes and Forest Fires

Although earthquakes and forest fires aren’t common in Ohio, many other states experience them. To protect against earthquake damage, keep heavy knick-knacks off of the wall, anchor hefty furniture, and don’t place precarious items near beds, cribs, or lounging furniture.

Should you move or stay where wildfires are more prevalent, consider National Interagency Fire Center’s “Protecting Your Home from a Wildland Fire” tips::

  • construct or renovate your home with fire-resistant materials such as tile, slate, brick, or stone.
  • consistently remove dried leaves and dead branches from the roof.
  • keep exterior vegetation at low levels.
  • surround your property with a firebreak, to minimize flames from spreading.

Natural disasters can hit any time. Be aware of climate conditions, so you can effectively make your home and family disaster-ready. Do everything you can to be prepared for unexpected calamities.


PHOTO: Flickr/CC0 Public Domain Mark 1.0